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Ural Alp/USHBA

Al Basic 10.03 Version A Al Basic 10.03 Version B
Al Basic 10.03
Version A
Al Basic 10.03
Version B
 
Basic 10.05 Version A Basic 10.05 Version B Basic 10.05 Version C Basic K 10.05M
Basic 10.05
Version A
Basic 10.05
Version B
Basic 10.05
Version C
Basic K 10.05M
 
Super Basic 10.07 Super Basic K 10.07M Steel Basic 20.01
Super Basic 10.07 Super Basic K 10.07M Steel Basic 20.01
Ural Alp Handled USHBA Handled
Ural Alp Handled USHBA Handled

Overview


USHBA Mountain Works was an American distributor for Ural Alp products.
I see no reason to keep them separate, and so I combined their ascenders with Ural Alp's on this page.


Al Basic 10.03, Version A
(#191)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my 10.03 from Ural Sport in 2005.

The primary difference between the 10.03 and the basic is the side plate material: the 10.03 uses 4 mm. aluminum.

The front plate on my 10.03 is stamped with a rectangle containing "RUSSIA" and URAL-ALP." The outside of the rear plate is stamped with "Made in Russia" and a rectangle containing the words "KOZLOV DESIGNS." The inside of the rear plate is stamped with triangles pointing up and down, with"ROPE Ø8-12 mm" between.

Comments

Like the Basic, the 10.03 is well-made. All surfaces are nicely rounded. The 10.03 is slightly larger and heavier than the basic, but many people would not notice the difference. Unfortunately, the 10.03's aluminum shell does not look as nice as the engine ruled titanium on other models.


Al Basic 10.03, Version B
(#232, 2275)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired Version B from Mountainland Outdoor in 2007.

The primary difference between this version and the previous one is that this one has a 6.3 mm. hole in the rear plate, just outside the anvil.

The front plate on my USHBA 10.03 is stamped with the USHBA logo. The outside of the rear plate is stamped with "Made in Russia" and a rectangle containing the words "KOZLOV DESIGNS." The inside of the rear plate is stamped with triangles pointing up and down, with"ROPE Ø8-12 mm" between.

Comments

Like the previous version, this one is well-made - after all, they are essentially the same ascender.


Basic 10.05, Version A
(#105, 2071)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Basic, Version A from John E. Weinel, Inc. in 1994. I acquired two more in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

Version A consists of two pear-shaped plates of engine-ruled titanium enclosing an actuating lever and a rope anvil. Each side plate has a 15 mm. attachment hole at the right side of the ascender. A 6 mm. bolt on the left side supports the actuating lever. The stainless steel axle bolt passes from front to back, passing in sequence through a nylon washer, the front side plate (free to rotate), a second nylon washer, the actuation lever, a third nylon washer, the rear plate (held tightly), a stainless steel washer, and a stainless steel nut. The nut is staked in place with two center punch marks. The bolt axis is drilled for 60% of its length to reduce weight. The actuating lever is spring-loaded counter-clockwise, toward the anvil. The left side of the lever has cutouts to reduce weight, while the right side, which contacts the rope, is flat. A 6 mm. special bolt attaches an anvil to the lower part of the rear plate. A groove in this bolt engages a notch in the front plate. A 3 mm. countersunk rivet prevents anvil rotation. The left side (rope face) of the anvil has a shallow U-shaped groove milled in it.

The front plate is stamped with the UIAA logo and a circle containing "URAL-ALP," and "TITANIUM EQUIPMENT." The outside of the rear plate is stamped with a rectangle also containing the words "TITANIUM EQUIPMENT." The inside of the rear plate is stamped with the Sieg Heil icon, a circle containing "ROPE OR HAWSER Ø6-13 MM" and the numbers "62-94."

Comments

This ascender is similar to the Russian ascender described on a previous page, but it is much better made. To start with, the side plates are made from thicker Titanium sheet, and have a beautiful engine turned finish both inside and out. The pivoting lever is rounded at both ends so that the rope isn't cut, and the axle is drilled to reduce weight. This ascender uses a milled block as an anvil instead of the knurled post, and the superfluous second post is eliminated. The side plate geometry is slightly different, so the ascender is easily raised when used on rope or cable from 6 to 13 mm. (I haven't tested this ascender on large cable, but it is labeled for use on them).

Like the Russian ascender, this one rotates when loaded, resulting in perhaps 4 cm of lost motion in each step.

Serguei Khramtsov (of eBay's Ural Sport store) sent me an email with the following comment:

In my opinion, your descriptions for Ural-Alp's USHBA's Handled and Basic ascenders and other ascenders based on the same principle are not complete. Because it has no words about using it on ice covered ropes. If you ask mountaineers who ever climb by ice-covered rope they will told you that "eccentric cam" type ascenders became absolutely helpless in this situation. Only some "eccentric cam" type ascenders with aggressive teeth can grip the ice-covered rope. But they are not good for a rope. But I'm sure that mountaineers who have USHBA's ascenders had no problem to climb by icy ropes.

I have not tried to use the Ural-Alp ascenders on icy ropes, so I cannot confirm their performance first-hand; however, I appreciate the comment.


Basic 10.05, Version B
(#2276)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Basic 10.05, Version B in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The Basic 10.05, Version B is 71 mm. tall, 86 mm. wide, 27 mm. thick, and weighs 125 g.

Version B does not have the nylon washer outside the front plate.

The front plate is stamped with the UIAA logo, the USHBA logo, "USHBA," and "EN567." The outside of the rear plate is stamped with a rectangle also containing the words "KOZLOV DESIGNS" and below, "Made in RUSSIA." The inside of the rear plate is stamped with a circle containing "▲," "ROPE," "Ø10-13 MM" and "▼."

Comments

Eliminating the outer nylon washer seems to have had no effect on the ascender's functionality.


Basic 10.05, Version C
(#2277)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Open for Rigging
Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Ural Alp Basic 10.05, Version C in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The Ural Alp Basic 10.05, Version C is 93 mm. tall, 75 mm. wide, 29 mm. thick, and weighs 122 g.

This version uses hex nuts instead of the larger 2-flat nuts used on Version A and Version B. The cam axle bolt is no longer drilled to reduce weight.

The front plate is stamped with the the USHBA logo and "USHBA." . The outside of the rear plate is stamped with a rectangle also containing the words "KOZLOV DESIGNS" and below, "Made in RUSSIA." The inside of the rear plate is stamped with "▲," "ROPE," "Ø10-13 MM" and "▼."

Comments

The differences between Version C, Version B and Version A have no significant effect on the ascenders' performance.


Basic K 10.05M
(#181)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my 10.05M from Ural Sport in 2005.

The primary difference between the 10.05M and the Basic is the attachment point. On the 10.05M, the attachment hole in the rear plate is 16.5 mm. high and 30.5 mm. wide. The front plate has a matching hook that opens downward, and a spring wire gate to close the hook opening.

The central axis lever bolt is not drilled like it is on the basic or 10.03.

The 10.05M has the same markings as the 10.03.

Comments

The hook arrangement allows one to rig the 10.05 without removing the sling maillon from the eye. This is a nice feature, since it will help avoid dropping the ascender. Unfortunately, the required geometry places the attachment maillon farther from the main line, which increases the motion lost in each step to perhaps 8 cm.

 


Super Basic 10.07
(#192)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my 10.07 from Ural Sport in 2005.

The top end of the actuating lever is where the 10.07 Super Basic differs from the 10.05 Basic. The rounded end of the lever is undercut at a 45° angle. The center half of the lever is milled away, and a stainless steel ball bearing bearing rides on a 7.5 mm. axle staked to the lever. The net effect is that the undercuts and bearing form three sides of a pseudo-pulley.

The 10.07 has the same markings as the 10.03.

Comments

The pseudo-pulley lets the rope run smoother, and adds only 20 grams. Although you may not notice much difference ascending, the pseudo-pulley does a good job reducing friction if the ascender ever needs to be used as a pulley for hauling gear. Ural Sport rates the hauling capability as 40 kg, so this is NOT a rescue pulley.

I like it.


Super Basic K 10.07M
(#182)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my 10.07M from Ural Sport in 2005.

Take the 10.05M Basic K and replace the lever with the Super Basic 10.07 lever, and you have the 10.07M

The 10.07M has the same markings as the 10.03.

Comments

I discussed the hook attachment with the 10.05M, and the pulley with the 10.07.


Steel Basic 20.01
(#190)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my 20.01 from Ural Sport in 2005.

The 20.01 is functionally equivalent to the Basic, but all parts are steel. The side plates are 2.9 mm. thick and painted with a speckled gray paint. The remaining steel parts have a black oxide finish. The actuating lever does not have lightening cutouts on the left side The bolts are standard hex bolts, and the nuts standard hex nuts.

The 20.01 has the same markings as the 10.03.

Comments

The 20.01 weighs 2 to 2.5 times what the other ascenders on this page weigh, and steel rusts. Enough said: buy one of the other models.


Ural Alp Handled
(#120)

Front Rear
Front Rear
 
Top Open for Rigging
Top Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Ural Alp Basic 10.05 from John E. Weinel, Inc. in 1994.

The Ural Alp Basic 10.05 is 71 mm. tall, 86 mm. wide, 27 mm. thick, and weighs 126 g.

The frame is a roughly a right trapezoidal shaped piece of stamped, engine-turned 3 mm. titanium. The wide side is at the bottom. A rounded cutout forms a handle on the vertical side. The hand opening is 100 mm. high and 35 mm wide. A rubberized handgrip encircles the vertical side of the frame. The grip has four finger grooves. It is about 18 mm. thick in the center, narrowing to 14 mm. at top and bottom. A 16 mm. hole through the bottom of the grip and frame serves as the main sling attachment point.

The side opposite the grip supports the working parts, consisting of a triangular grip lever, and anvil assembly. A swinging side plate covers these. The lever is mounted at the lower outside of the ascender. The lever is 59 mm. long, and pivots on a nylon bushing and 7 mm. stainless steel bolt. A small, hidden spring forces the lever toward the closed position. The fulcrum is offset so that it lies 24 mm. from the lower end of the lever. The lever is 12 mm thick. Both ends of the lever are rounded. The long side of the lever rests against the standing rope. The shorter sides are machined out to reduce weight. In use, the handle rotates and the standing rope pulls the upper end of the lever outward. The lower end of the lever moves inward and forces the standing rope against the anvil, providing the friction needed for the ascender to hold. The lever axle is dripped out for much of its length to reduce weight.

The anvil appears to be nickel-plated aluminum. It is mounted at the lowest point on the frame, near the handle opening with one. It is made in two parts. The lower part is an irregular 4-sided block, 40 mm. long, 20 mm. high and 13.9 mm. thick. An 7 mm. titanium bolt fastens the lower portion of the anvil to the frame, and also provides an engagement groove for the swinging side plate. A 5 mm. rivet secures the inner end of the anvil block. The face of the anvil block is slightly dished where the lever presses the standing rope against it. The lower anvil also supports a 6.3 mm. spring-loaded button that engages a hole in the swinging side plate to hold the plate closed. The upper anvil is an 18.6 mm. diameter, 13.8 mm. long cylinder cut on one side to form a V-shaped groove with four -shaped teeth. These teeth are not active in normal operation, but come into play when the ascender acts in an inverted mode to be discussed later.

The swinging side plate is made of 2 mm. engine-turned titanium sheet. It pivots on the same bolt and bushing as the lever. A notch engages the grooves in the anvil bolt. A 7 mm. hole accepts the spring-loaded anvil button. A small tab is folded outward to provide a finger tab for operating the side plate.

A dogleg bend in the frame at the opposite side of the handle opening aligns the grip with the center of the main rope. A 16 mm. hole in the frame near the post appears to be for weight saving only

All bolts are punched twice so that the associated nuts cannot come loose. There are no exposed sharp edges except for the anvil teeth.

The side plate is stamped with "RUSSIA" and "URAL-ALP" inside a rounded rectangle. The inside of the frame is stamped with "PATENT" inside a rounded rectangle; a Sieg Heil icon;, "ROPE", "WIRE HAWSER, and "Ø8-13MM" inside a circle; and "N4-93" (mirror image N). The back of the frame is stamped "TITANIUM EQUIPMENT" inside a rounded rectangle.

Comments

The ascender came with Russian instructions that I cannot read, but the instructions for the USHBA handled ascender can be followed. In low angle work - say, fixed lines in mountaineering - the ascender will grip in either direction, so if the line above you is cut and you fall, the ascender will still act to arrest the fall. Considering how sharp the post teeth are, I'm reluctant to try this on good rope. It's not clear why the post teeth or V-groove are needed. The USHBA handled ascender instructions are silent on this point. I presume it is because the fulcrum is not centered on the lever, and the designers felt that the teeth were needed to provide more holding power when the ascender is arresting a fall when the rope above the ascender has broken.

The handle has a comfortable rubber grip, and for once, the finger grooves are not obnoxious.

The ascender rotates as it is loaded, and looses 8 to 9 cm on each step. This is a considerable loss, considering the number of steps taken on a long climb. This alone would persuade me to choose another ascender for vertical work.

The Ural-Alp evolved into the USHBA handled ascender.

Serguei Khramtsov (of eBay's Ural Sport store) sent me an email with the following comment:

In my opinion, your descriptions for Ural-Alp's USHBA's Handled and Basic ascenders and other ascenders based on the same principle are not complete. Because it has no words about using it on ice covered ropes. If you ask mountaineers who ever climb by ice-covered rope they will tell you that "eccentric cam" type ascenders became absolutely helpless in this situation. Only some "eccentric cam" type ascenders with aggressive teeth can grip the ice-covered rope. But they are not good for a rope. But I'm sure that mountaineers who have USHBA's ascenders had no problem to climb by icy ropes.

I have not tried to use these ascenders on icy ropes, so I cannot confirm their performance first-hand; however, I appreciate the comment.


USHBA Handled
(#144, 2273)

Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
Front View: Closed Rear View: Closed
 
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging
Front View: Open for Rigging Rear View: Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired the left-hand ascender from USHBA Mountain Works in 1999, and the right-hand ascender in 2000. I acquired another pair in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun's collection.

The frame is a roughly a right trapezoidal shaped piece of stamped, engine-turned 3 mm. titanium. The wide side is at the bottom, and a bulge protrudes downward from the acute corner. A rounded trapezoidal cutout forms a handle on the vertical side. The hand opening is 100 mm. high, 48 mm. wide at the top and 35 mm wide at the bottom. A rubberized handgrip encircles the vertical side of the frame. The grip has four finger grooves. It is about 18 mm. thick in the center, narrowing to 14 mm. at top and bottom. A slightly elongated 16 mm. hole through the bottom of the grip and frame serves as the main sling attachment point.

The side opposite the grip supports the working parts, consisting of a triangular grip lever, and anvil, and a post. A swinging side plate covers these. The lever is mounted at the lower outside of the ascender. The lever is 61 mm. long, and pivots on a nylon bushing and 5 mm. stainless steel bolt. A small, hidden spring forces the lever toward the closed position. The fulcrum is offset so that it lies 24 mm. from the lower end of the lever. The lever is 13.5 mm thick. Both ends of the lever are rounded. The long side of the lever rests against the standing rope. The shorter sides are machined out to reduce weight. In use, the handle rotates and the standing rope pulls the upper end of the lever outward. The lower end of the lever moves inward and forces the standing rope against the anvil, providing the friction needed for the ascender to hold.

The anvil appears to be nickel-plated aluminum. It is mounted at the lowest point on the frame, near the handle opening with one. It is 50 mm. high, 20 mm. wide and 14.5 mm. thick. An 8 mm. titanium bolt fastens the lower portion of the anvil to the frame, and also provides an engagement groove for the swinging side plate. A 5 mm. rivet secures the upper end of the anvil. The face of the anvil is slightly dished where the lever presses the standing rope against it. The upper side of the anvil has a V-shaped groove with six z-shaped teeth cut on each side. These teeth are not active in normal operation, but come into play when the ascender acts in an inverted mode to be discussed later. The anvil also supports a 10 mm. spring-loaded button that engages a hole in the swinging side plate to hold the plate closed.

The post is mounted above the anvil. It is 12 mm. in diameter, and features an groove for engaging the swinging side plate. The post serves no function for normal ascending, but comes into play during rappelling and when the ascender is used in the inverted mode.

The swinging side plate is made of 2 mm. engine-turned titanium sheet. It pivots on the same bolt and bushing as the lever. Two notches engage the grooves in the anvil bolt and post, respectively. An 11 mm. hole accepts the spring-loaded anvil button. The inner portion of a c-shaped cut is folded outward to provide a finger tab for operating the side plate.

A dogleg bend in the frame at the opposite side of the handle opening aligns the grip with the center of the main rope. Three 16 mm. holes in the frame near the post appear to be for weight saving only

All bolts are punched twice so that the associated nuts cannot come loose. There are no exposed sharp edges except for the anvil teeth.

The side plate is stamped with "USHBA" and the USHBA logo. The inside of the frame is stamped with a symbolic person with one arm raised, a circle with "ROPE 8-13 mm" and arrowheads pointing up and down the standing rope axis, and "M2-9," partially obscured by the anvil. The back of the frame is stamped "Patent," "KOZLO DESIGNS" (there may be another letter after "KOZLO" but it is covered by the post nut), and "Made in RUSSIA."

Comments

The USHBA handled ascender is an updated Version of the Ural Alp handled ascender.

The ascender will grip in either direction, so if the line above you is cut and you fall, the ascender will still act to arrest the fall. Considering how sharp the teeth are, I'm reluctant to try this on good rope. The manufacturer's literature doesn't guarantee that this will always work, but with most other ascenders there is no chance at all. I think that this feature is probably most useful in mountaineering, where fixed lines are common, snow anchors are less secure than the normal rock climbing or caving anchors, and the slope is not vertical.

It's not clear why the post teeth or V-groove are needed, and the instructions don't say, but I presume it is because the fulcrum is not centered on the lever, and the designers felt that the teeth were needed to provide more holding power when the ascender was used in the inverted manner (i.e., arresting a fall when the rope above the ascender has broken). I have noticed that when using 11 mm. rope in the inverted manner, the lever forces the rope against the post, while on 9 mm. rope, the lever forces the rope against the anvil. A 10 mm. rope (give or take) can sometimes jam between the lever and post, but a simple tug usually releases the jam.

The USHBA ascender attaches securely and is unlikely to accidentally come off the rope. On the other hand, the USHBA ascender is difficult to remove or attach with one hand. This makes such common caving maneuvers as passing rebelays, switching ropes, passing knots and doing changeovers more time-consuming.

The handle has a comfortable rubber grip, and for once, the finger grooves are not obnoxious. The ascender rotates as it is loaded. When loaded, the grip is horizontal. Pulling on it is like pulling on a chin-up bar: the wrist doesn't need to be cocked like it is with most handled ascenders. If you use a lot of arm strength while ascending, you may like this feature (e.g., ascending in aiders, where efficiency basically sucks compared to any decent caving rig). The down side is that the rotation causes one to lose 8 to 9 cm on each step. This is a considerable loss, considering the number of steps taken on a long climb. This alone would persuade me to choose another ascender for vertical work.

The ascender's rotation is an essential factor in getting the lever to turn and grip the rope. Because of this, I was concerned that the top climber in a tandem pair might find that the ascender would not grip. I decided to try to quantify this by hanging weights underneath me on a free-hanging rope. I weigh 88 kg. My results so far are summarized below:

 Weight
Hanging Below
Effect,
11 mm. BlueWater
Effect,
13 mm. PMI
 20 kg Set & held well. Set & held well.
 40 kg Set & held after some initial slippage . Set & held well. Started to feel "loose."
 55 kg Set & held after some initial slippage. Set & held after some initial slippage.
 70 kg Set & held after some initial slippage. Hand-setting desirable. Set & held after some initial slippage 

I ran out of weights the day I did these tests. These limited tests show that the concern was reasonable, but not to be exaggerated, since the ascender always held if given an initial set by hand. Even when it slipped, the distance was less than a centimeter. Applying ones weight slowly increased the slippage, while a good solid step onto the ascender eliminated it. The fat rope held better because its tight fit in the ascender created more initial friction than the lever spring could by itself. I didn't test a 9 mm. rope because I feel that is too thin for tandem climbing, but I suspect the ascender would slip slightly easier than on thicker ropes.

I asked USHBA for test results on the ascender, and was told that on 11 mm. rope, it could support 2200 to 2400 lbs (9.8 to 10.6 kN) before rope damage occurs.

The post allows one to use the ascender as a descender. I'm not particularly impressed with this capability, preferring to use a dedicated descender (in an emergency, a carabiner brake rappel) instead of running the rope over the edge of the sheet-metal frame. On typical dirty caving ropes, sand could wear a sharp edge on the frame that could easily cut the rappel rope. At least the frame is Titanium and will resist wear fairly well, aluminum certainly wouldn't last.